2015 Return to the Oregon Bach Festival:
Pärt's ‘Passio’ chillingly recounts the crucifixion. "The soloists were excellent. Most impressive was baritone Tyler Duncan, whose authoritative delivery and orotund baritone voice earnestly conveyed the words of Jesus." -The Register-Guard
Return to the 2015 Spoleto USA Festival:
"Early this week, I discovered the extraordinary Canadian baritone Tyler Duncan, who made his chamber music series debut with a rendition of Robert Schumann's masterpiece for solo voice and piano...Dichterliebe...Duncan has one of those perfect lieder voices: flexible, expressive, consistent in tone and pitch. He also has the requisite dramatic flair and the intelligence to convey the meaning of the poetry by Heinrich Heine. He did so, and more, on Sunday.
Singing Dichterliebe requires physical and mental stamina. It's not enough to express the essence of each song; the performer must find the narrative through-line, the emotional arc. He must embody the heartbroken lover recalling, fondly at first, his blooming desire and amorous bliss, then progressing into the bitterness, anger and sorrow felt by someone spurned.
Duncan expertly conveyed all of this, singing from memory. He had internalized each phrase and devised a convincing character for the stage who bemoaned in beautiful phrases his heartache.
Duncan seemed relaxed on stage and he sang with confidence, his lyrical voice clear, his diction crisp but not artificial. It's not often one gets to hear this (or any) song cycle performed live, in its entirety, by such graceful and competent musicians.
On Wednesday, Duncan was back on stage at the Dock Street, this time to perform Beethoven's An die ferne Geliebte ("To the distant beloved"), accompanied on piano with panache by his wife Erika Switzer.
Duncan and Switzer performed this the first time when they were both students. It was evident that they, too, take An die ferne Geliebte personally. Together, they traded the emotions expressed in the poetry; they shared the musical phrasing, knowing in advance what the other would do."
-The Post and Courier
MASTER CHORALE'S ORFF SOMETHING TO SHOUT ABOUT:
"Carmina Burana is no modest undertaking, and for once the San Diego Symphony assembled all the right players on the field for the big game...Each of the cantata's vocal three soloists brought vibrant, fresh vocal allure and winning dramatic characterization to their roles...
Baritone Tyler Duncan easily won over the audience with his coy depiction of the young swain or the tipsy abbot, and he found for each role an appropriate color in his well-trained, resonant voice. The top of his range sported a confident tenorial timbre, and he was able to slip in and out of his pleasing falsetto - a trick Orff indulged in with impunity - gracefully."
-Ken Herman, SanDiegoStory.com
March 2015 performance of Bach's St. Matthew Passion with Duke Chapel Choir/Orchestra Pro Cantores:
"Equally effective was baritone Tyler Duncan in the role of Jesus. With wide experience in Baroque music performances, Duncan brought fine musicianship and a keen awareness of the depth of feeling necessary in the portrayal of the part of Christ."
-Classical Voice North Carolina
Return to the Oregon Bach Festival (2014) in Bach's St. Mark Passion:
"Most impressive were the three lower voices: Jesus, sung by baritone Tyler Duncan, was trenchant and silver toned, turning each phrase with appropriate changes of color and cadence."
-Oregon Arts Watch
"Baritone Tyler Duncan sang Jesus with consistent beauty and gravity beneath a "halo" of strings."
Return to New York's Bard Music Festival:
"On August 8 (2014) came the program "The Song Cycle as Drama," featuring an excellent performance of Winterreise in the intimate, acoustically fine Olin Hall. Baritone Tyler Duncan and his fellow Canadian, pianist Erika Switzer (piano) gave a musically straightforward and deeply affecting account, winning deserved audience tributes. Duncan, who's scored in Baroque music, seems poised to continue the Lieder singing legacy of his countrymen Gerald Finley and Russell Braun, sharing their virtues of tonal beauty, interpretive restraint and dynamic mastery. It's a manly, beautifully graded sound, capable of tenorish resonance and bass underpinnings. His gestures and stances were forthright, never melodramatic, and his German excellent. Switzer offered musically cogent, dynamically pliable and consistently responsive playing. This Winterreise proved highly memorable."
-David Shengold, Opera News Online
"But the high point of the day was the afternoon performance of Winterreise. Baritone Tyler Duncan convinced me that he’s lived through the heartache the two dozen songs comprising this cycle describe. His vocal tone was rich and focused, his understanding of the texts nuanced to the stories they tell.
Erika Switzer was an equal partner; less obvious, perhaps, but only because she sang only with music. In Die Post for example, she captured the relentlessness of the horse and horn as Duncan effectively varied the sound of the strophic text. And Switzer caressed the chromatic wind-gusts of Der Lindenbaum as Duncan told what at first seems a poignant folk-tale but glows with deeper melancholy as it progresses."
Minneapolis Recital Debut August 2014:
"On Tuesday evening, I caught a wonderful recital by Canadian baritone Tyler Duncan and collaborative pianist Erika Switzer. They performed sets of songs about childhood, travel, love and loss from the first half of the 20th century, the words coming mostly from Robert Louis Stevenson and Indian Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, the music from Reynaldo Hahn, Darius Milhaud, Erich Korngold and Ralph Vaughan Williams. Bringing the songs to lovely life were Duncan and Switzer, a team that achieved an admirable balance between piano and voice, urgency and reflection, power and playfulness.
There was no printed text in the program, but none was needed, for the lyrics were all in English and Duncan's articulation was immaculate. He used his very expressive face to humorous effect when he released his inner child (be he exuberant, frightened or pouty) on Hahn's Five Little Songs and Milhaud's Child Poems. On the latter, Switzer skillfully brought out the jazz-inflected harmonies that inspired Milhaud student Dave Brubeck.
Korngold was known as a film composer, and Duncan made each of his Five Songs absorbingly cinematic, especially Wings, an arresting, grief-tinged carpe diem. But the evening peaked with Vaughan Williams' Songs of Travel, a setting of nine poems by Stevenson with a plethora of sharp contrasts in mood. Duncan and Switzer ably conveyed the valedictory feel of the final three songs, sadness at the memory of an irretrievable past giving way to consolation from the immortality of art."
-The Saint Paul Pioneer-Press
Pacific Music Works' St. Matthew Passion:
"Tyler Duncan, an admirable Jesus last week, blossomed still further on Saturday in the St. John arias."
-The Seattle Times
Seattle Symphony debut:
"...there was so much to praise in the superb lineup of vocal soloists, the high quality of the players and the sense of drama throughout all the participating ensembles. This was no static oratorio, but a deeply moving theater piece with beautiful, contrasting musical textures...the rest of the soloists also were impressive, particularly baritone Tyler Duncan (as Jesus)."
-The Seattle Times
2013 Milwaukee Symphony debut, Hans Graf conducting Schubert's mass No. 6:
"Soprano Joélle Harvey, mezzo-soprano Jennifer Rivera, tenors Marc Molomot and Sean Panikkar, and baritone Tyler Duncan sang the solo and small-ensemble sections of the Mass with musical color and meaning as well as a tremendous ensemble sense."
-The Milwaukee Journal
June 2013 Boston Early Music Festival performances of Handel's first opera, Almira: "Tyler Duncan’s resonant baritone combined lyrical and dramatic qualities that were just right for the Moorish Raymondo..."
"Tyler Duncan, baritone, brought regal bearing and commensurate noble tone to his role as Raymondo, a mysterious and early-on disguised King of Mauretania..."
-The Boston Musical-Intelligencer
"I was likewise taken with the rich, erotically charged color of Tyler Duncan’s Raymondo..." -The Hub
2013 New York Philharmonic debut, Masaaki Suzuki conducting: "Tyler Duncan produced his refined baritone with care and artistry and dispatched yards of neat coloratura."
-Opera News Online
Chautauqua Festival debut (2012) in the Brahms Requiem: "...Duncan entered in passages high in his range with excellent diction and very impressive expression in Herr, lehre doch mich. The exchanges between Duncan and the chorus seemed like conversation..."
-The Chautauquan Daily
Opening the Calgary Philharmonic's 2011-12 Season with Roberto Minczuk conducting Beethoven's Ninth Symphony: "The final movement, however, was notably more in the heroic vein, considerably helped by an enthusiastic Calgary Philharmonic chorus and a first-rate quartet of soloists...Individually the members of the quartet sang impressively well..."
-The Calgary Herald
Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte at the 2011 American Spoleto Festival: "First, a mention of Canadian baritone Tyler Duncan, who plays the Speaker/First Priest: His wonderful voice is honey-coloured and warm, yet robust and commanding. When he first came on stage, his back was to the audience, but his authoritative singing absolutely focused our attention."
-The Globe and Mail
April 2011 Brahms Requiem with Christopher Seaman and the Rochester Philharmonic: "What left me wanting more were the few solo lines of baritone Tyler Duncan. What a fantastic voice: Natural talent, technical skill, and thorough training. Duncan's program notes mention music degrees from Munich and Augsburg, and it showed. His pronunciation and elocution of the German text was so well done, each word could be understood all the way to the balcony. I can only hope that he will soon return to Rochester for a concert in which he is featured."
-(Rochester) City Newspaper
"Guest baritone Tyler Duncan, making his RPO debut, dispatched his solos with dramatic urgency. Given a little poetic license, you could describe his voice as an iron fist in a velvet glove: great carrying power with a sensuous edge."
-(Rochester) Democrat and Chronicle
Haydn's The Creation with the Evansville Philharmonic in February 2011: "The voices of Raphael and Adam were sung by baritone Tyler Duncan. Mr. Duncan is an able and charismatic performer. He sings with beautiful tonal clarity and brought great feeling and expression to the roles. His interpretation of Now Shines Heaven in the Brightest Glory, in which Haydn's sense of humor comes out, was very funny as he sang about the creation of insects and worms and the bassoons imitated the sounds of beasts."
Messiah with Kent Tritle and Musica Sacra in Carnegie Hall December 2010: "The baritone Tyler Duncan delivered the texts with a powerful voice and dramatic conviction, enunciating the words with appropriate bite. The energetic applause after The trumpet shall sound was merited by both Mr. Duncan's passionate singing and the vibrant playing of the trumpeter Scott McIntosh."
-The New York Times
2010 Spoleto Festival debut, as Tom Friendly in the ballad opera Flora or Hob in the Well: "Chuchman and Duncan, both Canadians, gave delightful performances in terms of singing and acting. Their voices are clarion bright, yet rich and burnished with color...Duncan's baritone is robust and compelling. They both have glittering careers ahead."
Concert with Toronto’s Tafelmusik: “Duncan is one of those rare lyric baritones with rich, full low notes—ideal for singing Bach’s music. His showpiece was the sacred solo Cantata No. 82, Ich habe genug. Duncan showed tremendous sensitivity to the music, while bringing out the wide emotional and dramatic range of the text . His singing was equally winsome in two airs from other sacred Cantatas, O du angenehmes Paar is a slight, wistful-sounding piece with a particularly inventive accompaniment. Lasset dem Höchsten is a boisterous song of thanks that made an ideal cap to a sehr gemütlich (very cozy – intimate, in a friendly sense) musical evening.”
-The Toronto Star
Demetrius in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Princeton Festival: “As the young Athenians, especially Tyler Duncan (a robust-voiced Demetrius) gave dramatically nuanced and vocally solid performances.”
-The New York Times
Festival Vancouver concerts: “…the trio was joined by baritone Tyler Duncan—a locally bred and very talented singer who is apparently a long-time veteran of MusicFest Vancouver—to perform a MusicFest-commissioned original set of eight songs about love, composed by Stephen Chatman…with his rich voice and stage presence, Duncan pulled them off with panache.”
-The Vancouver Sun
Bach’s St. John Passion at the Baldwin-Wallace Bach Festival: “Baritone Tyler Duncan invested Jesus’ utterances with expressive nobility.”
-The Cleveland Plain-Dealer
In recital: "Duncan's Sleep, with its truncated phrases and long pauses, was delicious; and his full and leisurely baritone gave Winter a gravitas it would not otherwise have had, settling over the orchestra's active triple meter and weighing it down like a storm cloud."
-The New York Times
"In the very first song of Tyler Duncan’s recital at Weill Hall, something unusual happened; he found the emotional center and struck it with such poignancy that not a sound could be heard from anyone in the audience. Mr. Duncan’s vocal technique is solid and secure, with a sound that has warmth and power in the middle to low register, and delicate refinement in the upper reaches.”
-The Toronto Star
Papageno in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte at Greensboro Opera: "Tyler Duncan sang the role of Papageno, the bird-catcher, and he practically stole the show whenever he was onstage. His costume was great fun—a Clarabell the Clown with blue hair, baseball cap worn backwards, and tennis shoes. His acting skills (with perfect comic timing) equaled his impressive vocal ability, always in tune, and a delight to hear."
-Classical Voice of North Carolina
British-Columbia-born and America-based baritone TYLER DUNCAN enjoys international renown for bringing consummate musicianship, vocal beauty and interpretive insight to recital, concert and operatic literature. His 2017-2018 season includes recitals in Houston, New York and Montreal, return engagements with Les Violons du Roy/Bernard Labadie, the Toronto Symphony/Peter Oundjian, Toronto's Tafelmusik and the Calgary Philharmonic, and debuts with the Minnesota Orchestra/Helmuth Rilling, Hartford Symphony, National Philharmonic and two engagements with Ottawa's National Arts Centre Orchestra.
In opera, Mr. Duncan's roles at New York's Metropolitan Opera include Yamadori in Madama Butterfly and Fiorello in Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia.
At the American Spoleto Festival he sang Friendly in the 18th-century ballad opera Flora and the Speaker in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte. He has sung Dandini in Rossini's La Cenerentola with Pacific Opera Victoria, Demetrius in Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Princeton Festival; roles in Lully's Armide with Houston's Mercury Baroque; Purcell's The Faerie Queen and King Arthur with Early Music Vancouver, and Papageno in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte for Greensboro Opera. He also sang the Speaker at France’s Angers-Nantes Opéra, Raimondo in the Boston Early Music Festival production of Händel’s Almira and recently made his Japanese debut in Bizet's Carmen under Seiji Ozawa.
Mr. Duncan's previous concert engagements include Orff’s Carmina Burana with the San Diego and Québec Symphonies and Calgary Philharmonic; Mahler's Eighth Symphony with the Toronto and American Symphonies and Calgary Philharmonic; Mendelssohn's Christus, Bach's Magnificat and Poulenc’s Le bal masqué with the New York Philharmonic; Haydn's Die Schöpfung with the Montreal , Winnipeg and Québec Symphonies; Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with Tafelmusik, the Calgary Philharmonic, Toronto and Seattle Symphonies and in Berlin, Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Munich with the Philharmonie der Nationen; Händel's Messiah with Tafelmusik, the National, Montreal, Baltimore, Seattle, Newfoundland and Toronto Symphonies, Boston's Händel and Haydn Society, Portland Baroque Orchestra and San Francisco's Philharmonia Baroque; Brahms' Requiem with the Rochester Philharmonic and at the Chautauqua and Berkshire Choral Festivals; Janáček's Glagolitic Mass with the Toronto Symphony; Bach's St. Matthew Passion with the Puerto Rico and Montreal Symphonies, Munich Bach Choir, Grand Philharmonic Choir and Dresdner Kreuzchor, Bach's Ich habe genug with Tafelmusik, Symphony Nova Scotia and the Calgary Philharmonic; the Mozart Requiem with the Montreal, Utah and Toronto Symphonies and Calgary Philharmonic; and Vaughan-Williams' Five Mystical Songs at Carnegie Hall with the Oratorio Society of New York. He also recently made debuts with the the Milwaukee Symphony under Hans Graf and Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado. With the Montreal Symphony he has performed Berlioz’s L’Enfance du Christ and recorded Ibert/Honegger’s L’Aiglon. Among the other conductors with whom he collaborates are Helmuth Rilling, Peter Oundjian, Masaaki Suzuki, Leon Botstein, Christopher Seaman, Kent Tritle, Matthew Halls, Nicholas McGegan and Roberto Minczuk. He is regularly welcomed at the Bard, American Spoleto and Oregon Bach Festivals and has appeared at the Halle Händel Festival, Verbier, Lanaudière, Stratford and Montreal Bach Festivals.
Mr. Duncan's considerable gifts in the realm of art song have earned him prizes from the Wigmore Hall (London) and ARD (Munich) Competitions; Joy in Singing, Naumburg and New York Oratorio Society Competitions; Prix International Pro Musicis and the Bernard Diamant Prize from the Canada Council for the Arts. He holds music degrees from the University of British Columbia; Germany's Hochschule für Musik (Augsburg) and Hochschule für Musik und Theater (Munich). He is a founding member on the faculty of the Vancouver International Song Institute. Frequently accompanied by pianist Erika Switzer, he has given acclaimed recitals in New York, Boston, Paris and Montreal, as well as throughout Canada, Germany, Sweden, France and South Africa.
Recordings include the title role of John Blow’s Venus and Adonis, Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with Portland Baroque, Purcell works and Carissimi’s Jepthe with Les Voix Baroque, and a DVD of Messiah with Kent Nagano and the Montreal Symphony.
"The crushing greatness of Bach’s two extant Passion settings, which invariably make multiple appearances in the weeks before Easter, has often discouraged latter-day composers from treading the same ground. One who dared was the Swiss master Frank Martin, whose oratorio “Golgotha”
had its première in 1949. The work has received several fine recordings, notably a version on Harmonia Mundi, but until this year it had had only one live performance in New York. At Trinity Wall Street recently, the New Amsterdam Singers, an amateur chorus under the direction of Clara Longstreth, presented an intrepid revival of “Golgotha,” with the baritone Tyler Duncan impeccable in the role of Jesus. Outwardly austere, seething with inner drama, this is the only modern Passion that breathes the same air as Bach’s, and its neglect defies comprehension."
-Alex Ross, The New Yorker, April 2016
Drama on Gethsemane
Trinity Church, 75 Broadway
Frank Martin: Golgotha
“Sixty-six years after its American premiere, the massive Passion-Oratorio by Frank Martin, Golgotha has finally had a second performance. The venue was the equally massive Trinity Church, and its ensemble of soloists, chorus and orchestra did the work proud.…And a fiercely original “trio” which could have been written by Berlioz in the Gethsemane section. Here, alto and tenor Avery Avereau and Dann Coakwell sung in unison, answered by Tyler Duncan as Jesus, in antiphonal phrasing.
Mr. Duncan, a veteran of the Metropolitan Opera, was indeed Jesus, singing with a melodious baritone throughout the entire Holy Week work.
While this was far more religious service than drama, Frank Martin made his effort at theater. Again, it was Mr. Coakwell with Mr. Duncan in a stunning Pilate-Jesus colloquy. This was a dramatic scene of the most exciting immediacy, with the New Amsterdam Singers answering as the “villains” choosing the freedom of Barrabas over Jesus.”
Available upon request (MSprizzo@aol.com) is a sampler of Mr. Duncan's work.
St. Matthew Passion bass arias
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